After sweeping through the first three rounds of competition at the NCAA Championship, it took everything No. 1 USC had in its tank to stave off feisty No. 3 seed Pepperdine (27-5) in the title match. Two of the Trojans points came in three-set wins from pairs one and three. With the victory, USC wins its third-straight national title and second straight NCAA Beach Volleyball crown.
“We are heart-pumping, fist-pounding, so excited,” head coach Anna Collier said. “They worked so hard for this. And for the seniors, I am so happy for that fab five, that fantastic five, that furious five. Nicolette Martin, one of them, brought it home. So beautiful.
“Because of the leadership that those seniors brought, they knew they were going to win. Once Sara (Hughes) and Kelly (Claes) won, they were like, ‘it is ours… we’re going to take it home,’ and they did. I am so proud of them I could absolutely cry.”
The Trojans move to 38-1 on the season, marking a school record win tally. The lone setback came at the hands of UCLA in the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament, but USC got payback with a win in the event final.
USC ended the season on a six-match win streak and now boasts a 100-3 mark in recent history.
Top duo Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes, which garnered their second-straight Pac-12 Beach Volleyball Pair of the Year award, went 38-1 on the season. The pair set a national record with a 103-match win streak (April 2, 2015 through April 8, 2017), and rebounded from their lone loss of the year (13-21, 21-18, 17-15 to Saint Mary’s Lindsey Knudsen/Payton Rund) with a 14-match win streak, including wins in all four NCAA duels. Claes/Hughes also won the Pac-12 Pairs Championship.
No. 2 pair Sophie Bukovec and Allie Wheeler clinched the Trojans the Pac-12 title match and finished as runner-up to Claes/Hughes in the Pac-12 Pairs Tournament. Bukovec and Wheeler (25-7) garnered second team Pac-12 All-Conference honors. – Duel)
At No. 3, Terese Cannon and Nicolette Martin posted a 33-6 mark, including wins in all four NCAA matches.
The No. 4 team of Abril Bustamante and Joy Dennis (18-6) and No. 5 duo of Jenna Belton and Jo Kremer (31-4) rounded out the championship squad.
The full roster of the NCAA Beach Championship squad is below.
|##||Name||Height||Year||Exp.||Hometown/High School/Last College|
|3||Kelly Claes||6-2||SR||3V||Fullerton, Calif./El Dorado HS|
|5||Sophie Bukovec||6-1||SR||2V||Toronto, Ontario, Canada/Bishop Allen Academy/Long Beach State|
|10||Abril Bustamante||6-0||SO||1V||Redondo Beach, Calif./Redondo Union HS|
|11||Joy Dennis||6-1||FR||HS||Cypress, Calif./Keystone Academy|
|12||Allie Wheeler||5-11||SR||3V||Saratoga, Calif./Archbishop Mitty HS|
|13||Lainy Thomas||5-10||FR||HS||Frisco, Texas/Frisco HS|
|14||Sara Hughes||5-10||SR||3V||Costa Mesa, Calif/Mater Dei HS|
|15||Becca Dunn||5-11||SO||1V||San Clemente, Calif./San Clemente HS|
|20||Katrina Kernochan||5-9||SO||1V||Manhattan Beach, Calif./Mira Costa HS|
|24||Cammie Dorn||6-1||FR||HS||Laguna Beach, Calif./Laguna Beach HS|
|25||Jo Kremer||5-8||JR||2V||Pacific Palisades, Calif./Harvard-Westlake HS/Notre Dame|
|30||Brianna Sizemore||6-1||JR||TR||Carlsbad, Calif./Carlsbad HS/Point Loma Nazarene|
|31||Jenna Belton||6-1||JR||2V||Aptos, Calif./Aptos HS|
|35||Nicolette Martin||5-9||SR||3V||Anaheim, Calif./Canyon HS|
|40||Avery Hazelrigg||5-7||FR||HS||Manhattan Beach, Calif./Mira Costa HS|
|41||Terese Cannon||6-3||JR||1V||Pittsford, N.Y./Our Lady of Mercy HS/Georgetown|